A slow runner's attempt to complete the Boston Marathon while raising money for Dana-Farber.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Marathon Wrap Up
Well a week has passed and I finally can process the crazy times that were these past 10 days.
Friday: Taking the advice of a teammate, I knew that my Friday at work was going to be junk. I prepared myself and colleagues for the knowledge that any deadline would probably not get complete. My coworkers wished me luck and I was out the door to drop off my medical forms. I originally thought that getting into the city would be a breeze, but I somehow forgot that people aim to check in for 2 pm which is the same time I was headed to the Marriott. After a long line at the Sheraton to drop off the first of the welcome bags, I headed through Copley over to the DFMC area for the weekend. Along the way, I saw seas of orange and this sign and knew it was all real.
Once inside the DFMC drop off area, I was greeted by my team mom, Leslie. Seeing her calmed my nerves as she has provided such great encouragement throughout the season. I knew that if she believed in me, I could do it. I went along the line and picked up cookies, the medal for my in memory family, lots of papers and cheering items. Honestly, it was all a blur, but having attended the runner’s meeting a few weeks prior, I knew what was in the envelopes and I could read them at home. As I was walking out, I stopped to talk to Jennie, teammate and board member rock star, who calmed my nerves even further and was able to temporarily distract me from everything.
Back in the car and off to drop off the welcome packets, head home for a nap and clean and await everyone’s arrival. It was in the car that I realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day and probably should. Those cookies saved me on the drive over to Newton. As I had not been sleeping at all the last few days, that nap was epic and I awoke 4 hours later to my mom calling that she had landed. A quick call to the take-out place and she was at my house eating salad and pizza. Next call was from Rachel, one of my besties from college, saying she had landed. Off to the airport to pick her up and ½ of the out of towners had arrived. We went to bed shortly after midnight and I spent most of it tossing and turning.
Saturday: I ended up waking up way too early and convincing Rachel that it was the perfect time to hit the expo. We had been warned that the place gets busy Saturday and to go early. Score, we were finding on street parking at 10 of 9 and walking straight up to get my number by 9 am.
The expo was a blast and I got to take a million photos, snag a ton of samples and buy stuff that I had been meaning to buy. Before we walked in, I had warned Rachel that her job was to limit my purchasing of marathon apparel as I had already bought the jacket. Surprisingly, I only walked out with an adorable shirt and nothing else. We headed home for a nap to check emails.
All week, there were talks about the heat and how awful it was going to be. At this point, I opened an email from the BAA urging all novice marathoners to drop out and defer to next year. They also let everyone know that they had extended the finish time to 7 hours. For the first time in weeks, I relaxed. I had worked all season to be able to run a 5:45 marathon finish and was worried if I had to stop for the bathroom or such, it would all be out the window. Giving me that much breathing room was amazing! In fact, as Rachel said, I was almost in tears from joy.
Soon after that awesome email, I was getting the call from my dad and stepmom letting me know they were on their way to my place. After a quick discussion of the weekend and receiving birthday gifts, we were off to lunch. Standing outside Zaftigs, I bumped into a friend and fellow runner who wished me luck and helped calm nerves a bit more.My parents were exhausted after a redeye and shortly ditched us to take a nap as we did the same. The days of no sleep were getting quickly washed away now that my nerves were repaired. My mom called to let us know she was done shopping and ready to meet us for dinner. A trip to Summer Shack for dinner in Cambridge and home in bed by midnight. I finally slept well for the first time in weeks and slept through the night.
Sunday: I headed to the Sheraton to meet up with my dad and stepmom in the am and got amazing parking. We brunched amongst a sea of orange in the hotel restaurant sitting next to Team Hoyt. I figured it was a good sign that I was blessed to be sitting next to local legends and some other heroes including marathon winners. We finished brunch and headed out to see the finish line and festivities going on around town. It was a blast to get to walk around the finish and despite my horrible superstitious nature, still paused to take a photo or two. I left them at the Starbucks after a morning of fun taking in the energy of the city.
My mom and Rachel met me back at my place to head into the pasta party. Along the way I had a few marathon brain moments, but Rachel was quick to calm my nerves. I learned my lesson after nation’s tri last year that Rachel is a calming factor when I am in total freak out mode. We head into the pasta party and quickly find my in honor cards in which I am proud to show my family. The Cruz family overheard us and came over to say hi. For those that don’t recall, I was running in memory of their 3 year old Rylie. It was nice to catch up with them and talk about anything but the running. Karen was another great calming factor and I was glad to have been matched with them. All 9 of us sat down at our table and ate “linner” at 3 pm. The speaking portion of the evening started and they showed the in memory slide show. I started to lose it and could not look over at Karen or John for fear of totally losing it. After it ended, we talked briefly about how they know a lot of the patient partners and the in memory family. Man, are they tough and brave! Utta came on to speak followed by awards and then Jack. I had been talking up Jack all weekend so my family was excited to see who this hyped up man was. It turns out that they had also seen him on the news the night before which added to the hype. He provided humor to us stressed out runners. And like that the program was over, my family was all back in their hotels and I was alone for the first time awaiting the marathon start. A dose of Tylenol PM and I was sound asleep by 8 pm.
Monday: I woke up at 4:45, grabbed my bags and breakfast and was out the door by 5:15. On my way out, I saw my neighbors had decorated my door to give me some added pep. It should did make me smile seeing the pomp and circumstance. After parking the car so my dad could find it, I was over to the Marriott and walking to the buses with teammates. I pictured an orderly walk over with 100s of DFMC teammates on one bus. Man, was it the opposite; pure chaos and pushing and shoving. I was lucky enough to be on the bus with Giles, Alyse, and Pete. It was nice to know them and have run with them over the season as it provided some distraction on the hour ride out to Hopkinton. Soon enough we were departing at athlete’s village were Pete, Alyse and I banded together to find our way to the church. We got to the church and man was it packed. On the weekend runs, we usually had 100 or less people there so to see all 500+ of us was insane. I managed to talk to some of my track/Saturday morning teammates to distract me from the wait. I guess I wasn’t distracted enough as I put diaper rash cream all over my face instead of suntan lotion. At least it provided a good laugh. Shortly after that accident, the Fitbricks team was outside waiting for me to say hi. I hung out with them for a while through picture taking time. Jim came by in his police uniform to wish me luck and soon enough I was sending them on their way to the start. I ended up standing outside with Rob and others as we chose to walk to the start together. Having Rob there to talk me through it was key and I am so glad I got to meet him and his lovely wife this season. A quick photo was snapped and we were walking towards the start.
Jack was the announcer at the start which made me smile. I went the entire season picking his brain over and over and over and here he was in his celebrity mode. He was saying that Dana-Farber was in this wave and wishing us luck. And soon enough there we were crossing the start line. A note to laugh at, I had practiced my race day outfit, but not filled to the gills with GU. Sure enough, it kept riding down from the weight which forced me to hold on tight while running. My first mile was over faster than I expected as I looked down to see 11 minutes on my watch. I slowed myself down significantly and finished my 5k in pretty fast time.
Hopkinton was behind me and I was now in Ashland. Shortly after I hit the Dairy Queen, I saw Tracey jump in next to me and ran about 400 yards with me. It was nice to have my first fan out there. I also saw Captain Ben of Costa Rica fame which made me smile. At mile 4, my dad, stepmom and Ben B’s family was out there cheering me on. In the video they captured, you caught me saying it was hot. That was all that was going through my head…the heat! Soon enough I was rounding into Framingham and hitting the Bone. I know this road pretty well and knew there was no shade to be had. The heat started to get to me and I was doing a jog/walk. My time was still on target for the 5:45 finish as I headed into Natick and saw my mom, Rachel, and friends at my friend’s house at mile 10. Seeing them was key as it gave me strength to keep on trucking. I hit the half marathon point in the time I wanted and was ecstatic. Of course, that is when the proverbial wheels came off. The heat was starting to get to me and I was forced into a walk shortly after. I would jog occasionally followed by walking. As I hit Wellesley, I ended up walking with Liz and Christine, two teammates. We hit the scream tunnel and it was all it lived up to be. Shortly after we were headed to the first DFMC cheer zone where Christine told me that I was an inspiration this season. Of course that made me tear up to hear her kind words that followed. She and I played frog as I met up with a random lady named Laurie. She and I went up the hills as I talked her through what to expect. I jogged ahead as I saw the streets I knew I could push it up.
The hills were starting to be behind me when I saw a green shirt in the street. I knew that this was my next cheering squad as my neighbors, friends and family cheered me on. I don’t think the 10 of them will ever know how much it meant to me to have them there at Centre Street at a time I wasn’t sure I could finish. Ben R. ran with me for a tiny bit and told me how proud he was of me and that I was doing a marathon. That gave me strength to motor on through to the next milestone. My walking kept getting slower and slower, but I was joined with about 5-10 fellow DFMC people. It was a strength in numbers game as we mentally banded together to finish it all. Somewhere around Washington Square I saw my friend Claudia and her nieces. Seeing them cheer for me as if I was winning the race helped so much. Next up was mile 25 and the patient partner area. As true to what everyone has said, seeing all that support made me cry. They were there for us because of what we are doing to help in this awful fight. I am so glad I got to see them on the bridge. I kept plugging along and soon enough I saw teammate Brian’s sister and her kids. Her cheering helped me speed it up for that last half mile. I was turning onto Hereford with screams of encouragement and shortly onto Boylston where I saw Rachel and my mom. I gave them hi fives before running across the finish line.
At the finish line, I stopped my Garmin to see 27.16 miles. Does this now make me an ultra-marathoner? Jan was there to give us hugs and I stopped to take a photo with my new bff Eric who ran the majority of 10 miles with me. It was on to grab water and get my medal from Janet. Janet and I met my first year doing triathlons and she has been handing out the medals at the finish since the late 90s. She made it a point to stick around and place the new bling over my neck and tell me how proud of me she was. That hug never felt better! I grabbed my bag and walked to the hotel with Sarah and up into the recovery zone. It wasn’t until seeing Leslie that it became real. I had finished the Boston Marathon! A trip to the massage room, to change and grab a sandwich at it was off to see my family and friends downstairs on our way to dinner. A celebratory dinner at Legals where we discussed the race was just what I needed. I said goodbye to my dad and dropped my mom and A off at their cars and Ben R., Rachel and I were off to the after party.
In 72 hours, the events of 18 weeks of training were over. It meant the world to me to have some of the people that mattered the most cheering for me along the course. These people took time off of work, traveled the globe and stood out in 90 degree weather for me. The experience of finishing was amazing. It may not have been in the time I wanted, but it was still a finish. I am so proud to have accomplished the goal while others were not as lucky. In the end, I can officially say I ran the Boston Marathon and have the medal to prove it!